Not sure where to start when buying a computer? Computer shopping can be a daunting task, especially for those of us that aren’t very techy.
3 Key Things to Know Before Buying a Computer
Is this computer a good deal? Is that laptop going to be enough computer for my needs? Am I getting more computer for my college freshman than they really need? What makes this computer different than that one? Once you work through the simple decisions like desktop or laptop, touchscreen or no touch screen, big screen or little, you’re really just left with 3 major decisions when buying a computer: processor, RAM and hard drive.
What kind of processor or CPU (central processing unit) do you need?
The processor, in simplified terms, is the “brains of the computer” where most of the calculations take place. In terms of computing power, this is generally the most important part of the computer system. There are two main processor manufacturers: AMD processors and Intel processors.
Which is better? When buying a computer, you’re more likely to see an AMD processor in your lower end computers and an Intel processor in your higher end computers. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all Intel processors are better than AMD processors.
When computer shopping, plug the numbers into this CPU benchmark system to get a rough idea of where a certain processor stacks up against the rest. Just remember, the higher the Passmark CPU number the better. For example, a result of 4,000 means it can process (roughly) twice as much data in the same amount of time as a computer with the result of 2,000. Let’s break that down…
CPU Benchmark Scores when Buying a Computer
Less than 2,200 on CPU Benchmark Score
According to the results on this chart, anything landing at 2,200 or less is considered a lower end processor. These would be perfect for the light computer user who is only running one or two things at a time and would rather save money than have lightning speed.
2,200 – 4,500 on CPU Benchmark Score
Processors with 2,200 – 4,500 CPU benchmark scores on this chart are the most common mid-level processors. These will be faster and far more efficient in multitasking and handling tasks that require more processing power. If you’re looking at something greater than 4,500, you’re likely already a tech-head with some serious computer needs and this article is likely putting you to sleep…
How RAM Affects Computer Performance
RAM, or random access memory, is similar to a human’s short term memory. RAM makes the information that is needed for current operations readily available which, in turn, helps to speed things up on your computer. You’ll want more RAM to help keep your computer running fast, especially if you like to have several programs running at once. If you’re a novice user that usually only focuses on a single task at a time 4GB is probably sufficient.
The majority of today’s computer users would best be served by having at least 8GB of RAM. More than 8GB is likely overkill unless you’re big into video editing, graphic design or other very demanding tasks and you tend to have about a dozen tabs open in your internet browser at once. Guilty.
How to Choose a Hard Drive
Last up, your hard-drive or HDD. The hard drive is used to store data on your computer including pictures, music, videos, text documents and any other files that have been created and/or downloaded. Refer to the diagram below (found on BestBuy.com). If you’re not planning on saving a lot of photos, music, videos and more to your computer then why pay for the added expense of having a large hard drive?
Buying a computer does not have to be intimidating. Sending those graduating seniors off to college with a fancy new laptop doesn’t have to be so expensive! Buy what will suit your needs instead of going overkill because you don’t know what you’re needing. Need my personal opinion? Send me a message and I’d be happy to help!
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